Reflections on International Relations Theory and its Relevance to the Twenty-First Century: The Need to Incorporate a Complex Approach
This paper focuses on the problem that security studies has not adequately incorporated complex analytical methods. Current analytical methodologies used in social sciences adhere to reductionist approaches. This approach is useful under certain conditions, but the world has changed a great deal since end of the cold war, and the comfortable familiarity of the bipolar competition between the two superpowers is no longer relevant. Complex analyses deal with the interactions between agents, and coactions of agents in a given environment. Feedback is pervasive in such systems, and can lead to criticality events, phase transitions, and adaptations by the system. There is interplay, therefore, between the micro-level behavior of self-organizing agents and the macro-level characteristics of the system that are sensitive to bottom-up perturbations. This paper will survey the current analytical approaches to theorizing about war and international politics to identify whether there is a problem, if it is getting worse, and then examine how complex analyses may be the solution by supplementing deterministic methods. Theory is fundamental to comprehension, and necessary for individuals at the highest level of government to understand and advance the interests of their country in the international arena. Thus, for strategic thinking to advance, theory must advance; for theory to advance, security studies should embrace complex analytical techniques already being applied in the hard sciences.
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